Before I finalize my drawing, I’ll pause and do a value study in black and white paint. I do this now, so that if I need to make any changes to the composition as a result of the study, I won’t have wasted time drawing something in the wrong position.

After taping some tracing paper over my drawing, I mixed up 9 values of gray from white to black. I labeled these right on my palette so that I could identify them easily. For example, if I tried # 3 gray, and it was too dark, I’d know to try #2 gray. Working from left to right, so that I didn’t smear the paint, I roughed in the basic shapes, judging the values as best I could. After this layer is dry, I’ll go back over it, correcting. I never get it right on the first go! Painting is about comparing, and until some paint is down, there is nothing to compare with!

Below is my set-up and easel in the studio.

This study is very loose and undetailed. My goal is to see the whole composition and how the values relate to each other. Below you can see how loose it is. It’s amazing how much you can express with just a little paint in the correct values.

I can already tell that I’ll need to reserve the brightest whites for the glowing lamp and the highlights on the crystal bracelet, tempting though it will be to use them all over the painting. The value range of oil paint is never going to be as wide as what you see in nature. You have to trick the eye into thinking that the painting captures the whole range. One way to do this is to use pure white and pure black only in the lightest and darkest areas, and scale everything in between, even if it means that some areas aren’t as bright or as dark as you want them.

Below is my first pass, completed. I’ll wait 4-5 days for this to dry, and then make corrections.